User Experience Report on Travel Websites

Web-based usability testing tool Usabilla published an interesting report today on the user experience and usability of websites within the travel industry

Participants who tested the hotel and comparison websites were asked questions about what they liked best and least on each company's homepage, while participants who tested the airline website home pages were asked to locate where they would click to print their boarding pass and were timed to see how long they took.Airline sites tested include American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and travel sites inclde Sharaton, W Hotels, Priceline, and Travelocity among others. 800 people participated in the study.

"The travel sector occupies a very recognizable corner on the Internet, and there are a myriad of ways to book an airplane ticket or accommodation," said Paul Veugen, CEO and founder of Usabilla. "Given the intrinsic customer-centric attitude of the travel sector, these companies strive to deliver a pleasurable online customer experience by embracing the importance of usability and user experience, which is why we decided to test and highlight them."

So did the travel websites in focus live up to the high expectations?

Among airlines, The Delta Airlines homepage scored highest in terms of accuracy (67%) of participants locating the boarding pass, and Delta also scored best in terms of the time (15.3 seconds) it took to find it.

Those testing hotel sites revealed some interesting information as well. Those sites with a "clear header, ease of navigation and beautiful visual design" all stood out in a positive way. Sites with "scattered testimonials, social media buttons, buttons that don't fit with the navigational structure" received negative feedback.

Perhaps most surprising was the responses related to the Facebook 'Like' buttons on these travel websites. The reaction of participants to the buttons was overwhelmingly negative across all travel sector tests according to Usabilla. Participants "strongly disliked" the buttons and stated they "really hate the pushy appearance of a company asking for an endorsement" or "begging" a user to 'Like' their company or brand without any benefit to the user.